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Deacon Candidates Pray, Study on Journey to Ordination

Nine men from the Diocese of Belleville and three men from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri are journeying to ordination in the Permanent Diaconate.

In year five, they spoke of the changes that are occurring in their lives because of their participation in the diaconal program.
Of those who responded, all said their prayer life has changed and deepened. They sometimes lose themselves in prayer not noticing how much time they spend speaking with and listening to God.

Prayer “has become a part of my day now. I get up a little earlier even in the summer and say my prayers,” candidate James Law of St. Augustine in Belleville, said.  “The day just doesn’t go right if I don’t start it off with prayer. There are times I just lose track of how long I’ve been praying.”

Candidate Randall Riesenberger of St. Mary Parish in Belleville spends “much more time in prayer of many different types now than I even knew existed before. And it is much deeper at times. My wife, Amy and I discuss our prayer life and spiritual things now as easily as we talk about grocery lists. Being a prayerful person and couple isn’t something we do anymore so much as it is who we are now and we’re much richer for it. Talk about it as an individual, a couple.”

Candidates and their wives spend one weekend per month at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Belleville with professors and adjunct faculty from St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana, working with this diocese to create a program to prepare men for ordination to the diaconate.

The classes “are of value and most if not all are difficult,” candidate Mark Kabat of St. Mary Parish in Mt. Vernon said. “They definitely cause me to stretch myself.”

In this, the third year, candidates are studying, or will study, Scripture, church history, Mariology and the sacraments among many other classes.

“Continued formation is the thing that excites me most,” candidate Kevin Templin of St. Bernard Parish in Albers said. “I love learning more and more about our faith.”

Kristen Templin, Kevin’s wife, said she balances family time with participating in the program and learns “something new” each time.
Candidate Mark Kiblinger from Missouri said: “I have found the studies to be very spiritually enriching. The formal education combined with the interaction of all the deacon candidates makes for a wonderful learning environment.”

Kiblinger is not only grateful for the opportunity to study with the Belleville diocese, he is thankful for the hospitality of John and Mary Gomez of St. Clare in O’Fallon because he and his wife spend the diaconal weekends with them.

Candidate Daniel Cozzi of Holy Childhood Parish in Mascoutah said being part of the diaconal formation has given him the opportunity to expand his knowledge and think about what types of ministry he thinks about most. “I am most excited about being able to baptize and witness marriages. I am excited about this because doing so can help relieve the heavy burden our limited number of priests are shouldered with while at the same time being a part of these moments in the Christian life are opportunities to evangelize ourselves while being a part of God delivering grace. I am drawn to catechesis of middle school youth, high school students, and young adults.”

For more information, please contact Patti Warner at pwarner@diobelle.org

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